Evaluating Commercial Open Source Projects
Thursday April 22nd, 1999
A recent Forbes article characterized Mozilla as a "flop". The article had so many inaccuracies that I felt a rebuttal was required. At the same time, I felt that some light needed to be shed on the differences between commercial Open Source projects and "all volunteer" Open Source projects. What follows (click "Full Article" below) is a rebuttal to the assertions in the Forbes article and my opinion on what can reasonably be expected from a commercial Open Source project.
As always, the opinions are my own, and do not reflect the opinions of mozilla.org (which MozillaZine is not affiliated with).
#15 Re:Evaluating Commercial Open Source Projects
Friday April 23rd, 1999 4:43 AM
You are replying to this message
Bruce's comments were so intriguing I just had to respond.
>There is no way that Mozilla will >be able to compete with Microsoft >in the browser arena.
Interesting. What brings you to this conclusion? If Mozilla can't compete, can anyone? If other companies can, why is Mozilla different?
>Mozillazine is nothing more than front to thwart negative public opinion on Mozilla... they want the last word on the matter.
No, MozillaZine is run by me, and the opinions are my own. I'm not interested in thwarting negative public opinion as exposing the pathetic, biased reporting that passes for journalism. did you happen to watch the coverage during the day of the school shooting? Journalists passed of as facts (not as hearsay or innuendo) some of the most remarkable bullshit that I sat dumbfounded as I watched. What I see in the computer-industry news is just as bad, only on a smaller scale. The Forbes article was so rife with inaccuracies and blatant disinterest in "fact-finding" that it deserved more than just a rebuttal. It just so happens that Mozilla is an area of the industry that I happen to know something about. I keep up with the news, and speak with the developers often. If my actions were only that of a mouthpiece, I would have taken Jamie Z. up on his offer months ago to fold MozillaZine into mozilla.org. I wanted to be able to report independently, and not feel that my opinions (negative or positive) were being controlled by mozilla.org.
I happen to feel that it's too early to come to a conclusion about Mozilla's fate. I think everyone else who does either doesn't have the facts, or has an agenda. Please feel free to prove me wrong. But I would like to know what criteria you use to evaluate Mozilla's failure: what project do you have to compare it against? And don't say "Linux", because those two projects are as different as night and day. However, if you do persist in comparing Mozilla and Linux, I think you should really go back to the end of Linux's first year, and see what kind of support had built up around it. How many coders did they have working full time (on a payroll)? How many volunteers? How many people were testing? How many people had commit privileges?
Mozilla's rendering engine at pre-alpha stage beats the pants off of IE5. Prove me wrong. Mozilla's UI, although still in its infancy, has made amazing progress although it's cross-platform. And mozilla has the support of the web-developers out there who want a stable, small, standards-compliant browser. Will they allow it to fail? Time will tell. But it's way to soon to be writing an epitaph.
So, can I get the last word? I doubt it. However, I think it's interesting that some in the mainstream press actually find that my opinions aren't nonsense. If the computer industry cannot take alternate opinions, opinions that run counter to the pervailing thought of the day (which seem to quite often be shaped by the responses in Slashdot forums, of all things), then the industry is in sad shape.
And if you aren't willing to evaluate my opinions on their merits, then we really can't have a frank discussion at all. And I'm sorry for that.